Sacajawea Audubon

Recent Sightings – February

Great-tailed Grackle (Photo by Nate Kohler)


A large blackbird has been causing quite a stir among the Montana birding community.  First sighted Feb. 2nd, this Great-tailed Grackle has been frequenting a local Mexican fast-food establishment over the past 2 weeks.  More likely to be seen in Texas or Arizona than Bozeman, this grackle is only the 3rd reported sighting in the state.  What would bring such a bird to Montana in February?  Well, the Great-tailed Grackle, once rarely seen north of Mexico, has seen a rapid expansion of its North American range.  By the end of the 20th century, it had nested in at least 14 states and was reported in 21 states and 3 Canadian provinces.  This coincided with habitat changes such as irrigation and urbanization.

The male is glossy black with purple iridescence, a long keel-shaped tail, large bill and yellow eyes.  In its normal inland habitat, it forages in open grasslands, pastures and lawns.  It has adapted to find food in dumpsters, lawns and trees in urban areas.  The grackle's diet includes insects, small vertebrates, plant matter and garbage.  Thanks to Nate Kohler for providing us with a great photo!

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